So much has happened since I last wrote in this space. I’ve been meaning to write and meaning to write, so much to say! But life keeps getting in the way and while writing often doesn’t feel like work in good times, when things are hard I remember that it is work and that it takes time and energy.
We had a beautiful six weeks in Plymouth. While there we walked to the beach almost every day. We explored. We luxuriated in a beautiful house.
We also endured a record-setting Nor’easter that knocked out power to hundreds of thousands of people. It was quite something. Hurricane-force winds that shook the house. Being in a storm like that right near the shore was intense. I’ve been through a bunch of nor’easters, but nothing remotely like that. The power went out in the night and I ended up going to the living room and staring at the window there until I fell asleep again. We were without power for about 18 hours, which was actually really short compared to a lot of places. Some of which were out for four or five days. It was a weird dreamy-time.
There were lots of downed trees everywhere and when we took a walk down to the beach after the storm it was amazing. The storm had totally stripped away the fence from in front of the dunes and washed all the broken bits of fencing into the beach access walkway. It also washed away a good ten feet of the dunes. It filled in the little stream completely. And we watched a digger excavate the stream again two days after the storm. It was fun to see the effects of erosion and watch the stream carve a new bed for itself. There were new sandbars where the sand from the dunes had resettled. And we found a dead gannet half buried in the access walkway and a dead harbor seal carcass washed up near the seawall. We also found a cormorant skeleton. We joked about how Sophie kept finding dead things. Oh yeah she also found a bunch of dead polliwogs in the stream that had little budding legs just visible under their tails.
Bella lost her phone in a sand dune and we borrowed a metal detector from the rental house and, amazingly, located the phone which I was sure was gone for good.
We visited the Plimouth Patuxet historical site where they have a recreation of the original 17th century English settlement and reenactors in costume talking in first person as the original settlers. There is also a recreation of a Wompanoag village with summer and winter wetus (aka wigwams) and demonstrations of cooking and making dugout canoes. The kids got to participate in a pike drill with the reenactors who played Miles Standish and other colonists. We also visited the recreation of the Mayflower, the Mayflower II. And to go along with it we read a book about the Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick, which was quite good.
But it took forever for the plumbers to do their work and we ran out of time on our lovely Plymouth rental. We had to move to a much less nice rental house in Brockton, where we spent Thanksgiving week. That house was bare and without decoration, if felt hostile and loveless and lifeless. I’ve never stayed in a place I hated more. Then after that we were glad to go back to beach-front living in a lovely rental house in Hull, just a block away from Nantasket Beach. Despite the often bitter cold of early December, we explored that beach and collected heaps of quahog and mussel shells and made more memories.
Then, the contractor still not being done, we spent a couple more nights in a hotel. Ugh. And finally on St Nicholas Day, after receiving chocolates and wool socks in their shoes, even though we were in a hotel, we got the best present of all and moved back home. The house was a mess. For the first few days the toilet was hooked up but not the shower or bathroom sink. The kitchen was under a thick blanket of sawdust and plaster dust and grease and everything had to be washed and scrubbed. We had to clear the dining room table to eat. The contractor still had to paint and install baseboards, so we couldn’t fully unpack right away, but we were still thrilled to be home.
Unpacking and cleaning has been a very slow process. We hung Christmas lights and garland despite the mess and made room among the boxes for a Christmas tree which we decorated on Dec 23, not the latest we’ve ever put up the tree, but cutting it close. I paused from unpacking to do a lot of Christmas baking, making fudge and gingerbread and fruitcake and challah. We had a Christmas ham from a gift box of food, then our Christmas Eve fish feast and then lasagna for Christmas dinner. Dom and some of the kids made it to midnight Mass, but I stayed home with a child who was too keyed up about missing sleep, so I did the Christmas morning Mass and then took a nap after Christmas dinner instead of going to the in-laws for a Christmas party. Instead I watched All Creatures Great and Small and enjoyed the gift of having a quiet house to myself.
In the week after Christmas I’ve continued to declutter and unpack and catch up on laundry– all the linens and clothes that were clean in the laundry room had to be re-washed as did all the dishes and cookware on the shelves. We are still unpacking books. And those need to be decluttered and organized as well.
We are looking to getting back to regular schoolwork soon. School became very spotty in the last two months and it’s going to be work to reestablish a routine. I’m so very glad to be home again, but it still doesn’t quite feel like normal life has resumed yet. It’s still in an in-between place. In many ways the house is much much better: new floors, new paint in all the rooms, new bathroom (floor, vanity, shower, everything because there was so much mold and water damage in the bathroom after a very long time of a slow leak under the floor.) But it’s also still a work in progress. I’m slowing getting new curtains and new bed clothes and new floor rugs and we still have to hang pictures.
We had one final trial and tribulation. In the final week of the year Ben got sick and then Bella. And then one by one Lucy and Anthony and Sophie and finally Dom and me. It looked like a cold, sore throat, drippy nose. Ben got a cough, Bella had muscle aches and tightness of breath. Finally on New Years Day I used a precious rapid test I’d managed to snag at the pharmacy the week before and tested Bella. The test was positive so my working assumption is that we all had covid, probably Ben picked it up at a Christmas party or at Midnight Mass. Bella said things started tasting funny and Dom lost his sense of smell and taste for a couple of days. Lucy and Anthony and I probably had the mildest symptoms. I felt like I had a very mild cold, just sore throat, some congestion and a little tiredness. But not so tired that I felt a need to stay in bed for a day, just one evening of letting Dom cook dinner while I dozed.
Now we are all feeling better and went on a lovely hike in the woods. to enjoy Friday’s foot of snow.
So hopefully this week we will be getting back to school and continuing to unpack and settling into something like normal life once again. I’m hoping to write up a post about my favorite books of 2021 and I hope I’ll be better at blogging in this space, but I know better than to make plans or promises.